Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What Do You Mean There is No Off Button?

Here are some examples of how our days now sound...

On Sunday morning...
(J wakes up):Stacy, Sean, Casey, Ka Ka, Zane, Corbih, Kay Kay, Paatee...

Me: Did you have a good time at the party yesterday?

J: Yah

Me: Did you dream about the party?
J: Yah

J: truck, choo choo, fiy chuck, cyca, choppa, vroom, choo choo, hopper..eat, oatmo.

Today in the car on the way to a store five minutes away...

"witch (pronounced with a b instead of a w), one, two, ghost, two, socca, socca, kick, dada
(he sees people playing soccer, they kick, daddy plays soccer) awsif awsif (office, office- meaning daddy is at the office if he's not playing soccer) punka, punka (pumpkin) gan, gan, gan (again, again, again) more, more more, (he wants more ghosts, witches and pumpkins) car go (car wash), Rosa, Rosa (name of a Mexican restaurant), munch (lunch), goat, neigh, neigh, moo, moo, sheep, sheep, sing, sing, pease, pease, (play that song again please or I will scream), see ba ba, see ba ba (cereal bar, cereal bar-- give me one now or I will really scream) see ba baaaaaaaaaa, see ba baaaaaaaaaa."

I didn't give him the cereal bar.

Later... at the park...

under, under, sirrl (squirrel), nuts, nuts, tee, up, up, tee, sky, arpane, arpane, gamma? (Is Grandma in the airplane?) see, see, sing (swing), kick, kick, out, off, jump, side (slide), oof-oof...end first two minutes at the park.

Do you have a headache yet?

Sure, all this talking is fabulous and cute, but this newfound ability to repeat and announce everything he sees leaves us with very little silence.

We spend the rest of our time trying to decipher the new words he is trying out. Somtimes they make absolutely no sense. The word "botch" has about 13 different meanings to him and I haven't a clue.

The word we are really afraid of popping up is "Why?"

Saturday, October 27, 2007

And the winners are...

SWAT had their second annual Halloween party at S's house this afternoon. S is a bit fanatical about Halloween and goes to great lengths to decorate and plan a great party. She really outdid herself this year. It was a beautiful day so the kiddos were able to spend a lot of time playing outside. She built and painted a pumpkin toss set, a worms, teeth and eyes feeling set, and a ghost cut-out set. She also had a hay bale and pumpkin area for family photos. This girl thinks of everything!

K and J. K is dressed as a peacock and didn't crack a smile all day.

J was in true party form and spent most of his time eating and his free time playing. He wanted to eat all of the pumpkin muffins I brought, but he also enjoyed some grilled cheese and apple sandwich slices as well as some of the pumpkin chili I made. It seemed to get good reviews so here's the recipe:

Pumpkin Chili:
1lb. Ground turkey
1/2 cup chopped onions (I used more)
1 large red or green pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes (no salt added)
1 can tomato sauce (15 oz)
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can packed pumpkin
1 4 oz. can diced green chiles
1/2 cup loose-pack frozen whole kernel corn
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
I also added a teaspoon or so of pumpkin pie spice, which gave it a great smell and about another quarter can of pumpkin. The pumpkin acts as a thickener, so the more you add, the thicker your chili will be.
In a large saucepan, cook onions, garlic and peppers until soft. Add turkey and cook on medium high heat until brown, drain. Add everything else. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or more. Be careful not to burn the bottom by having the heat on too high.

There was a vote for best dressed family and guess what? We won! No, we weren't the only family that dressed up. The prize was a skeleton trophy. When J's friend K handed him the trophy as her mom announced us as the winners, he uttered, "No! No! No!" He was terribly frightened by the trophy and didn't want to win! Everyone said that he was just being humble. B and I joked that we finally had a chance to be popular and our kid was ruining it for us!

It was so great to see everybody. There were some babies there that I hadn't seen in nearly a year. It's amazing how much growing happens in so little time. More pics on Halloween!


This post is for my darling SIL, who is waiting to go into labor and lovingly branded me with a faint scarlet letter F for giving her a starter of friendship bread. I am in the midst of experimenting with the measurements to take away the friendship part of the bread and will let you know what I find out. In the meantime, here's a pumpkin muffin recipe that I just made and is so good! You only have to make it once! I made them into mini muffins and only put cinnamon sugar on half of them (forgot in the first batch). J was stealing them and stuffing them in his mouth, so I think that is a good sign. Very moist and fluffy for a muffin. I added the whole can of pumpkin as well, figuring you couldn't go wrong with too much. I would imagine you could use applesauce instead of oil, but I didn't have any. Oh, and I only baked the mini muffins for about 13 minutes. 12 may be just enough as well. Enjoy!


I have a pumpkin chili cooking right now that we're taking to a party later on. If it gets good reviews, I'll post that as well.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Halloween Practice

We had a little Halloween party at the library during story hour today. The library has about 5 different Halloween parties and you can sign up for whatever ones you want to attend. I decided we'd go to the one today because it was food free. Since J doesn't eat "party foods" I really didn't see the point in going to one that would be a giant mish mosh of prepackaged cookies and candy. He doesn't know that part about Halloween and I'm happy to keep it that way for a little longer. Instead of food, we were to bring 30 stickers, pencils, or other treats to put in little bags that the library provided. J got quite the stash of straws, stickers, spider rings and little pads.

I didn't think we would last long because J was a little taken back by the pirate libarians and the witch and skeleton story props that were in the front of the room. He also didn't know what to make of the larger crowd that was there today. We've been walking around the neighborhood quite a bit to see the pumpkin and witch decorations. He likes those. Ghosts don't bother him much either. I can see why the skeleton doesn't look quite right to him. But after singing a great little song today called, "Mr. Bones" I think they're breaking him in a bit. Ha ha ha.

Once he got used to his surroundings, J had a blast. He loved visiting with the other kids and participating in the songs and stories. He didn't want to leave when it was time and even said thank you to the librarians as we left (without me telling him!). Such a thoughtful lion.

I'd post pictures, but I am sure we'll get cuter ones this weekend when we go to another party. The whole family is dressing up, so we'll see.

We're finally cooling off down here. On Monay the temperature dropped about 30 degrees to a high of 56. It felt bone chilling cold because of the wind. J didn't want to wear long sleeves because I don't think he's worn them since April. Today it's in the 70s and I'm wearing long sleeves. We even turned the heat on a bit last night to take the edge off. Clearly the blood is thinning. It is finally nice to have some fall around here, though.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Good Times

B's birthday was a success. The vodka sauce turned out great, but it took me almost 3 hours to make it and it was only supposed to take a little over 1. I was being really careful not to burn that heavy cream when I reduced it. Turns out, I could have left it alone a little more. J just loved watching the candles burn on the ice cream cupcakes. There were only two candles because I had a heck of a time getting them through the frozen whipped cream. Check out this shot of the two of them. They aren't related or anything, are they?

I also had a hankering for fall the other day and made some pumpkin white chocolate chip cookies with cream cheese frosting. Actually the recipe is in a Christmas cookie book, but they looked too good to wait until then to make. This recipe was interesting. It said it would make 6 dozen cookies, which is usually your standard chip cookie product. I ended up with over 9 dozen. And I lost about 2 dozen due to accidental burnage on the first trays (still getting used to the double oven). I was also using evaporated cane sugar. Anyone baked with that before? It seems to burn a little more than refined sugar. I had little spoltches of cooked sugar (not quite burned) on the bottom of many of the cookies. Anyway, they tasted like little bits of pumpkin heaven. I would recommend halving the recipe. Oh and make your own cream cheese frosting instead of the icky store bought stuff. I'll try to post this sometime later.

A funny thing happened with these cookies. I was trying to frost them while they were still warm. I remember turning off the oven for the last tray. I thought I frosted everything and began to clean up, got distracted by finished laundry, and went to bed. I went to use the top oven two days later and what did I find? A cooked batch of cookies that I left behind. Oops. The neat thing was that they hardened into a really good biscuit-like cookie. The originals are better, but it was neat that although I forgot about them, they were still pretty tasty.

We took a scenic drive yesterday to Marble Falls to visit Sweetberry Farms. They were having a fall festival with plenty of pumpkins, hay and pony rides, pumpkin ice cream and goats. Poor J wanted to get in the pen with the goats since that's what he's allowed to do when he visits Nummi's farm in California. He also called every goat he saw Suzi, after Nummi's goat who is no longer with us. Unfortunately J doesn't know that, so every goat is Suzi. I think we need a Suzy 2 at the farm in CA. J had a great time banging on pumpkins, riding on the kiddie sized tractor, checking out the old fashioned trucks filled with pumpkins, running around with other little ones, and tasting some of that pumpkin ice cream. In fact, there was so much excitement that not only did he sleep in the car, but he also slept for another two hours when we got home.

After naptime we headed over to the Hairy Man Festival at one of the parks in the neighborhood. The legend of the Hairy Man is pretty lame, something about a baby left in the woods, grows up all hairy and tries to keep the western settlers from taking the land by the creek. Today the festival collects canned food for local food banks and raises funds for the children's homes in the area. There was live music, ponies, jumping castles, crafts, a train, and plenty of food. And yes, there is a hairiest man contest. If I'd known about that, I would have made B enter, but there's always next year. We were actually pleasantly surprised by how nice the festival was, as we'd been told it wasn't so great. J loved riding the train. I think we did that about 5 times. He tried going in a jumping castle, but slid right out. I think he was just so tired from everything else he did.

Today we just spent most of the day outside. There was a wonderful breeze and it was so comfortable outside. We did some yardwork, played at the park, went for a wagon ride and took a long nap. Not a bad way to end the weekend!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Birthday Prepping

I took J on a little culinary tour this morning of an Italian market and one of the fancier schmancier grocery stores in Austin. We were on a mission to get ingredients for B's birthday dinner tomorrow night. The old man turns 33. As he puts it, he's 1/3 through with his life, which when he told me that, I freaked out on him for being so half empty. I mean, who thinks about dying on their birthday anyway? He followed up with, "Look how much I've done in 1/3 of it. Imagine what I can do in the next 2/3." Okay, you're excused. Good point.

J and I encountered some happy people for a change. One was a counterperson at the market who didn't charge us for the single sesame seed cookie I was going to buy to give to J. It took such will-power to get just one and then to give it to my son and just take a teeny tiny nibble! This place smelled like heaven. There was a hint of garlic in the air-- not the overpowering kind you get at a wanna be Italian restaurant. The bread area smelled so fresh that I wanted to bring every loaf home with me. J cracked me up the entire time by yelling, "Mar-ket!" down each aisle. I think that's what won us the free cookie.

We also scored some free toppings from another little ice cream shop. I'm making ice cream cupcakes and was on a hunt for crunchies from my childhood ice cream cakes. When I found them and asked if I could buy some, the salesperson just gave them to me. I consider that my reward for waving on all those people who don't thank me back! B is not a gigantic dessert eater and requested an ice cream cake for his cake. But, I know he will complain that there is just too much left and he doesn't want to eat it all, so I thought about making a smaller version. I thought I was being all creative, but then I found out that some of the ice cream stores have begun stocking them wtih their ice cream cakes. I thought about buying them, but decided to have some fun. I can't wait to try them.

We're cooking Pennette Ala Vodka for dinner, which should be interesting. It's a recipe from Rao's Italian Restaurant (famous in Harlem and now also found at Caesar's Las Vegas.). It calls for a quart of heavy cream reduced in half. That should be fun to do with a toddler running around. I hope I can avoid burning it or everything will be ruined. I can't believe B wanted some thing so rich, but we'll give it a shot and see how it goes.

Oh, this should get me the bad mommy of the year award. A few days ago I was getting dinner ready. J loves when I chop things. He runs around slapping his legs when I smash garlic, or he yells, "Chop, chop, chop, cut, cut, cut". I decided to let him practice cutting too. He has a play knife that came with his play basket of fruit and I only let him use that when he is strapped in his chair (don't want to give the impression that running with knives is okay). I gave him an onion to "chop". Usually he peels a couple of layers and puts it in his pot and that's it. Today he decided to bite it a few times (and was a little surprised at what he got). That wasn't the worst part. After peeling way more layers than I realized, he touched his eyes. The minute I saw his hands go up to his face, I knew. And then the tears came, followed by, "Eyes! Eyes!" I felt so horrible. We scrubbed his hands and washed his face. I distracted him with some bubbles and he was fine. We all know that onions can burn, but can you imagine how it probably felt to him? I felt so bad. Well, next time I will give him something like a potato or celery.

I'll be sure to let you know how dinner goes and post some pics of the old man on his birthday.

Friday, October 05, 2007

You're It!

I wish I had pictures or video of this fantastic first, but unfortunately, I don't. B, J and I were at the park across the street this afternoon. We met some people who live down the street, C, L, and their darling 5 year old granddaughter, C. J was very intrigued by little C and wanted to do everything she did. We had to put him on the swings because she was swinging. She squealed "Weeee," J squealed back. Of course his attention span lasted about 2 minutes and then he was onto something else, but C wanted to continue this interaction. She followed B and J as they explored the sunken rock area of the park and made it over to the kiddie slide/steering wheel area. This is where J's first game of tag took place.

It just sort of happened. J was happy going down the slide, but when he saw C coming over, he immediately got excited and began running around the playscape as he yelled, "Oh oh!" Giggles and squeals erupted and the quick movement of gravel gave away each of their attempts at being sneaky. B helped J tag C a couple of times and he kept yelled "Touch you!" It was the sweetest thing. He was absolutely exhausted and almost fell down the slide face first because he was trying so hard to catch up to her/get away from her that his legs were actually giving out on him! J has played tag like this with adults before, but never another child. It was so much fun because it was kid-initiated and we just watched and laughed. A very good sign of things to come. Who knew that J could keep up with the older girls?

Tonight B and I shared some yummy Greek food from a restaurant not too far from here. We hadn't had any in many months, so we ordered way too much and have plenty of leftovers. We also unpacked our books, put childproof latches on our TV stand so that we can actually use the drawers to hold dvds without them being emptied everyday, and broke down several boxes that have been cluttering the dining room. We still have a long list of things to do this weekend, but we were productive in a short amount of time, which was good. Also exciting and unexpected today was a Friday morning garage sale where I picked up a Lego table that converts to a blackboard table, wipe board table, and town map for cars table for only $6! There are 3 more community garage sales tomorrow. I'm going to try to get out really early and look for a dark wood bookshelf for our bedroom and some other good kid buys.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Thank You, Thank You Very Much

Why is it that my almost 20 month old can sign thank you to the cashier every time we are in a store without prompting (I think he hears me say thank you and then signs to participate), but the three grown-ups I waved on today at separate stop signs cannot offer the same courtesy? This drives me absolutely crazy; not just in the car, but anywhere. Is it too difficult to put your hand up as a gesture of gratitude as you pass by?
Or how about this... You almost have a head on collision with someone turning the corner in the grocery store. You say excuse me. They keep going. Ugh! You offer another person the chance to get ahead of you in line because they have way fewer items than you. And they barge ahead without a word. Or when you hold a door for someone, with child in tow and not only do they not say thank you, but they just walk through the door without grabbing it! What is it with people these days? This didn't all happen today, but it happens much more often than it should. Were these people never taught manners when they were younger, or have they just become so numb to the world and their actions that they don't even know what they are doing? I'm sure these people are just busy like the rest of us, but it's the little things that make a big difference. And not using simple manners just makes me so mad! Not publicly mad-- I mean it would be so easy to just yell at all of them and tell them how rude they are, but that would be just adding to the problem. It makes me even more determined to raise a polite, sensitive child who understands that it doesn't take much of an effort to be just that if you really think about it.